MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - Sen. Joe Manchin said Tuesday that Democratic leadership has promised federal cap-and-trade legislation - which he famously shot with a rifle in a campaign ad - is dead.
In a teleconference with West Virginia reporters the day after his swearing-in, the former governor said he met with Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada on Monday for a "heart-to-heart" about coal and other energy issues.
"I got his commitment that cap-and-trade will definitely not be on the agenda, and won't be on the agenda during the next Congress," Manchin said. "I have a deep commitment and a personal commitment from him that cap-and-trade is dead."
Manchin, who was elected to fill the unexpired term of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, assumed the office Monday as state Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin became West Virginia's acting governor.
Reid was re-elected to his Democratic leadership post by acclamation Tuesday morning, and Manchin said he would attend his first caucus Tuesday afternoon to discuss philosophies, including earmarks, with his fellow senators. A total of 23 Democratic senators are up for election in 2012.
The coal industry has long argued that cap-and-trade legislation aimed at curbing greenhouse gases would devastate business. Manchin used a hunting rifle to put a bullet through a facsimile of the bill during his campaign against Republican John Raese.
Manchin said he's already made clear to Democrats that he will staunchly defend the coal industry and won't shrink from a fight. He described attending a meeting on Monday where various forms of renewable energy were discussed.
"I said, 'Wait a minute, you forgot one. It's coal. Half the nation depends on it,'" he recounted.
Manchin said he's asked to serve on the energy and appropriations committees but won't learn his assignments until January. He acknowledged, however, that landing appropriations - which Byrd chaired through most of his later years - is a long shot.